PAN AMERICAN GAMES: Lima finishes successful Games with a busy Sunday as U.S. collects 293 total medals

The joy of winning: U.S. women's Archery Team gold medalists (l-r): Khatuna Lorig, Casey Kaufhold and Erin Mickelberry (Photo: World Archery)

The final day of the XVIII Pan American Games will finish with the Closing Ceremony, but there was still competition in seven sports with considerable drama.

Archery had already been the scene of excitement early in the Games, as American Brady Ellison set a world record of 702 (out of 720) points for the 70 m ranking round. But that guaranteed him only the top seed in the eliminations.

In fact, Ellison was shut out in the quarterfinals by Canada’s Eric Peters, 6-0, and left without an individual medal. But he was busy later.

Peters ended up third as fellow Canadian Crispin Duenas, who had won a Pan Am silver back in 2011, took the gold medal (and an Olympic qualifying place) with a 6-4 victory over Brazil’s Marcus d’Almeida.

In the women’s Recurve final, Alejandra Valencia (MEX) won the gold medal (and Olympic qualifying spot), but the story of the silver and bronze medalists was equally compelling. Both were from the U.S., but the backgrounds of Khatuna Lorig and Casey Kaufhold could not be more different.

Lorig is now 45 and trying to make her fifth Olympic team for her third country, having won a Team bronze medal at age 18 for the Unified Team (former Soviet Union), then competed in Atlanta in 1996 for her native Georgia and in 2008-12 for the U.S. She missed out on 2016, but she’s on target for Tokyo.

Kaufhold is all of 15 and made her debut on the senior level during the World Archery indoor season, winning the GT Open in Luxembourg last November. She’s been improving steadily and in Lima, reached the semis before losing to Lorig, 6-4, and then winning the bronze medal, 6-0, over Ana Rendon of Colombia. But she wasn’t done for the day either.

In the team events, the U.S. won two golds and a bronze with Ellison, Lorig and Kaufhold in the middle of all of it. Ellison – who was selected to carry the American flag into the Closing Ceremony – teamed with Tom Stanwood and Jack Williams to win the men’s Team bronze, 5-3, over Mexico. Lorig, Kaufhold and Erin Mickelberry won the women’s Team gold, defeating Mexico, again by 5-3, in the final. Kaufhold’s bow broke just before the event started and had to shoot with her stabilizer, destroying her balance. She got a four on her first arrow, then re-adjusted her aim … and shot 10 and won the end. Repairs were made before the next end, but that second arrow might have won the match for the U.S.

Then Ellison and Kaufhold teamed up to win the Mixed Team event, 5-3, over Colombia and earn another Olympic quota spot. Said Kaufhold, “Shooting with Brady is always fun. I always shoot almost always my best when I shoot with him because he gives me confidence like nobody else does. It’s just great to be able to shoot next to him and compete with him. He’s just one of the best teammates I could ask for. It’s such an honor to win the medal with him.”

At the same time as one of the world’s oldest sports was finishing, one of the newest events on the Olympic program was being held: BMX Freestyle. The queen of this event is American teen Hannah Roberts, and she scored another victory on the day after her 18th birthday.

She was an easy winner, scoring 86.67 on her first run and that was more than enough to outdistance Macarena Perez of Chile (76.67). Asked about winning the first-ever BMX Freestyle event in the Pan American Games, she said “It’s the craziest experience. BMX Freestyle is getting out there and it’s meaning a lot to the riders that the professional aspect of the sport is being recognized at this level.

“Today has been breathtaking, it’s awesome. I held a few things back from my bag of tricks that aren’t quite ready for contests yet. I had a few mistakes and I just had to work through them. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do but I am happy to take the win.”

Venezuela’s Daniel Dhers, a star on the BMX Freestyle World Cup circuit, took the men’s title at 88.50 in a tight battle with three others who scored 83.50 or better.

The U.S. women’s basketball team was trying to win the Pan American Games tournament for the first time since 2007, but fell short against Brazil, falling 79-73 in the final late Saturday night.

Brazil led, 55-53, starting the fourth quarter, but after the U.S. tied the game at 55-all, the Brazilians went on a 10-4 run and then converted seven of its final eight foul shots to finish with a 79-73 victory. It’s the second straight silver for the U.S.

“It’s tough,” said U.S. (and Michigan State) head coach Suzy Merchant. “You have to give Brazil credit. Their guard play; they were better than our guards tonight, especially Taina Da Paixao. And, we turned it over early, uncharacteristically. So, you’d like to take maybe four or five of those back and have a shot at it again.”

At the end, the U.S. dominated the Games, winning 293 medals, its highest total since the 1999 Games in Winnipeg (296 or 304 depending on who you believe.). Americans won 120 golds, 88 silvers and 85 bronzes, ahead of 171 medals for Brazil (55-45-71) and 152 for Canada (35-64-53). A total of 31 of the 41 nations who competed in Lima won at least one medal.

You can find the complete results of the Games here.

One of the images of the Games that will be remembered is the mascot Milco, as each medalist was presented with a statuette instead of the traditional, wasteful flowers.

The Games ended without serious incident and the Peruvian organizers are to be congratulated for getting the construction completed on time and the events appeared – for the most part – to run fairly well. The cost to produce the event was reported at more than $1.2 billion (U.S.), with only about $430 million to organize the Games, and the rest for construction and state services.

The organizers said that the Games welcomed 6,687 athletes, who were supported by an army of 11,192 volunteers.

And, of course, Lima is not done yet. The Parapan American Games start on Friday, 23 August.